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Florence Illustrates the Importance of Disaster Preparedness


Florence Illustrates the Importance of Disaster Preparedness


Flooded StreetYou never know when or where the next hurricane will strike the United States. You only know that it will. As Hurricane Florence violently demonstrated once again, it's vital that your business have a solid continuity plan in place for the worst-case scenario.

People tend to use the term "major disaster area" generically to describe any region where a calamity has occurred. But when it comes to relief, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has specific guidelines that enable the president to issue a major disaster declaration, releasing federal funds for assistance in the stipulated region. While much of the relief funding is used to repair public infrastructure, some can also benefit businesses, often in the form of loans through the Small Business Administration.

If a business needs to be completely rebuilt and will be offline for a while, its employees or contractors might be eligible for Disaster Unemployment Assistance. In addition, the IRS grants many businesses in federal disaster areas extensions on certain filing deadlines.

It is a good idea to review your various business insurance coverages with your agent to ensure you have appropriate levels of coverage for flood, wind and hail, and business interruption.

Preparation Is Still the Best Plan
While the remedies listed above can be invaluable to a business owner in distress, all are fairly limited in scope. Prudent business owners do everything they can to anticipate disasters and prepare accordingly. And a disaster doesn't have to be a major natural catastrophe like Hurricane Florence. Something as simple as a burst pipe can put you out of business, if you're not adequately prepared. That's why it's important to have a contingency plan in place if you and your employees aren't able to access your physical place of business for whatever reason.

Even if a disaster doesn't affect your business directly, it could still have an impact. Just ask anyone whose supply chain was interrupted after Hurricane Florence. As my colleague Andy Hale noted, "Even distant disasters can have an impact. Budget accordingly."

Andy wrote those words in the aftermath of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, which struck the United States in rapid succession in 2017. Now, in the wake of Hurricane Florence, it's worth remembering something else that Andy wrote at that time: "Research has shown that 90% of businesses fail within a year of being taken offline by a natural disaster if they're unable to reopen within just five days."

If you fail to take the time to prepare your business for a disaster today, you'll have virtually no time to save it if disaster strikes tomorrow.
Brad Stickland


Brad Stickland

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